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Where do we go from here?

By Colin Miller - Speech given at the People's Climate Rally in Oakland, California, September 21, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Colin Miller is Coordinator, Clean Energy & Jobs Oakland Campaign of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition and Program Manager of Bay Localize, a local organization struggling in the case of climate justice.

Why are we here today? Why are over 100,000 people marching in New York, in the greatest climate march in human history? Why are millions of people, marching, rallying and demonstrating in over 200 actions around the world today?

On Tuesday, the United Nations will come together for a one-day summit on climate change, and we are demanding climate justice.

Regardless of how the UN responds to our demands, we are here in solidarity with struggles from the local to the global, recognizing our interconnectedness.

From Frisco to Ferguson, from the fence lines of the Chevron refineries in Richmond, to the front lines of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, we are here for justice and we are here for peace.

We are here because we love our children, as we love our Mother Earth, and all of her creatures, all our relations, from the smallest insect, to the greatest of towering Sequoia redwood trees. We are here because we are not going to allow all that we love to be destroyed in the name of profit - not without a fight.

We are here for the fight of our lives, and in a fight for our very lives - for the lives of our children, and for our children's children's children - for the next seven generations.

We are facing the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced - literally threatening our own extinction. In fact, the ecological and climate crisis is the greatest social justice struggle of our time, and it touches every facet of our lives.

This moment in history requires unprecedented courage.

First, we must have the courage to see honestly and clearly, the situation we are in today.
Second, we must have the courage to speak truth to power, and to envision the world that we want to live in and that we want to leave for future generations.

Finally, we must have the courage to ACT - to heed the call of the Climate Justice Alliance's Our Power Campaign, by walking the path of a Just Transition together: away from an extractive economy based on fossil fuels, and towards local, living, loving economies.

Localism? I don’t buy it

By Stan Cox - Al Jazeera, April 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Humanity’s failure so far to deal with multiple crises – planet-wide ecological degradation, domination by a transnational economic elite, the deepening misery that afflicts billions in both rich and poor nations – has prompted increasing interest in local economies as less intimidating arenas where much-needed change might be more readily achieved.

It’s true that in the earliest days of capitalism, the human exploitation and environmental destruction that came along with the pursuit of profit were largely local problems. Then, inevitably, those local economies grew and coalesced into an even more destructive global economy. But retreating into local issues means latching onto one of capitalism’s symptoms – the eclipsing of local economies and governments by more powerful transnational forces – and treating it as if it’s the disease itself.

In his 2012 book, No Local: Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World, Greg Sharzer writes, “The problem with localism is not its anti-corporate politics, but that these politics don’t go far enough. It sees the effects of unbridled competition but not the cause.”

Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable, Low-Carbon Mobility

By ITF Climate Change Working Group - International Transport Workers’ Federation, August 4, 2010

This report, now more than a decade old, was remarkably forward-thinking for its time (except for the uncritically positive assessment of Carbon Capture and Storage and Cap-and-Trade, positions the authors would likely now no longer hold. It also, interestingly, includes in an appendix, the delegate of one union affiliate, Robert Scardelletti, President of the Transportation Communications International Union (TCU), an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), from the US, who dissented from this report's conclusions, because it's green unionist orientation would "destroy jobs", a position held by the most conservative unions in the AFL-CIO.

From the introduction:

Climate change is the biggest single challenge ever faced by human civilization. Human economic activity has put so much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) into the atmosphere that serious global warming is already happening. As a society, we have no choice but to reduce these emissions drastically in order to stand a good chance of avoiding potentially catastrophic changes in our climate. Moreover, emissions from transport are rising faster than emissions from any other sector and in some cases the increase in transport emissions is counteracting emissions reductions achieved in other sectors. Lowering transport emissions presents a series of unique and formidable challenges.

The good news for transport workers is that a serious approach to emissions reductions will create new opportunities for quality employment, particularly in public transport, railways (both passenger and freight), transport infrastructure, road repair, and in developing clean transport technologies. But failure to act on climate change will have the opposite effect.

Read the text (PDF).

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